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Educational health information to improve your well-being.

The 5 Most Commonly Overlooked Cancer Warning Signs

March 10, 2020
Published in: Cancer

A woman in pain, pressing on her neck

When you think of cancer, likely the first symptoms that come to mind are suspicious lumps and growing skin lesions. These are the most well-known signs of a cancerous growth, but they’re not your only warning. Pay attention if your body isn’t feeling quite right. Many early symptoms of cancer could also be caused by other issues and are easy to shrug off, but don’t ignore them. Some symptoms that are commonly overlooked could help you catch cancer earlier! Make an appointment with your doctor if you have problems with any of these five commonly overlooked warning signs of cancer:


It’s normal to be tired sometimes, especially if you have a busy schedule or didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Long-lasting exhaustion that can’t be fixed by getting enough sleep, however, is a sign that something is wrong. Cancer is the out-of-control multiplication of mutated cells, and it takes an unusual amount of nutrients and energy to fuel their growth. When cancer cells are leeching off your body’s resources, it can leave you with lowered stamina and a chronic lack of energy. Of course, cancer is not the only cause of exhaustion; you may instead be suffering from depression, a metabolic problem, or other issues. Regardless, talk to a doctor to help you get back to your normal self!

Aches and Pains

To some extent, having body aches and pains is an expected part of getting older. Previous injuries and sleeping in awkward positions can easily leave you sore. You should investigate further, however, when the pain isn’t typical for you and doesn’t go away. A persistent pain in one part of your body with no seeming cause is cause for concern. Pain is your body’s way of warning you about health concerns, like the human equivalent of a “check engine” light. Sometimes it can even warn you of cancerous growths before they have a chance to spread.

Weight Loss or Trouble Eating

Cancer cells press into your internal organs and disrupt their function. Although you might not think of them as symptoms of cancer, problems with your digestive system or unexplained weight loss are potential warning signs. Lack of appetite, sudden weight loss, pain during/after eating, or trouble swallowing mean you should see a doctor.

Unusual Bleeding

Unusual bleeding means something is wrong. Some cancers cause internal damage and bleeding, and it might show up as blood in your waste or urine. Unexplained bleeding from your genitals, severe swelling, or coughing up blood are also signs of damage.

Coughing or Hoarseness

Coughing and hoarseness are commonly due to mild irritation, cold weather, voice strain, the common cold, and dozens of other fairly harmless causes. Generally speaking, a cough shouldn’t concern you too much. If the cough is chronic and doesn’t seem to have a cause, it's time to see your doctor. Types of cancer that damage or crowd the lungs and esophagus can cause coughing, shortness of breath, and hoarseness that won’t go away.

If you notice these or other potential cancer symptoms in yourself or a loved one, speak up! Ask your family doctor about potential causes. If you need a Primary Care Provider, call (833) AHC-HLTH or visit our Online Provider Directory.